Whether or not you’re towing, a speed limit is just that – the maximum speed at which you’re allowed to travel. However, you many need to modify the speed at which you’re travelling when towing, regardless of the signposted limit. With this in mind, we look at trailer speed limits in each Australian state.
When towing a trailer, the dynamics of the tow vehicle are changed, especially if you’re towing an unbraked trailer up to a maximum Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM) of 750kg. You effectively have up to 750kg pushing your tow vehicle along without any extra braking assistance.
It’s therefore sensible to travel at a speed that is appropriate for the road conditions, regardless of the signposted speed limit.
Trailer speed limits
In most cases, the law states that the maximum speed limit for a tow vehicle with a trailer in Australia is as per the signposted speed. However, there are some subtle variations to this rule across the states.
New South Wales
The maximum allowable speed of a tow vehicle towing a trailer in New South Wales is 110km, as per the maximum allowable speed on motorways and highways, so long as the tow vehicle has a GVM not exceeding 4,500kg. [Understanding maximum trailer mass]
In Tasmania all vehicles towing trailers or caravans must abide by the posted speed limit, unless the trailer or caravans has a GVM of 12 tonnes or more. Highways in Tasmania have speed limits of 100km/h and 110km/h. Therefore the driver of a vehicle towing a trailer or caravan can drive at the posted speed as long as it is safe to do so.
Western Australia has a maximum of 100km per hour for a vehicle towing a trailer. However, there is no specified vehicle and trailer weight. Note that the maximum allowable speed on motorways and highways in Western Australia is 110km per hour.
South Australia, Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, Queensland and Victoria
The remaining states and territories have no trailer speed limits for towing. Instead, they recommend that drivers travel at a speed that is suitable to the prevailing conditions on the open road.
Regardless of any speed limit restrictions, you should exercise more care when towing a trailer. Maintain longer distances between your tow vehicle and the vehicle in front to allow more room for braking and emergency manoeuvres. Brake sooner into corners to allow for a safer approach, in case of the unexpected.
Manufacturer speed restrictions
Vehicle manufacturers can also place speed restrictions on towing. Be sure to check with your vehicle’s user guide before you tow.
Towing safely on the open road is a matter of common sense. Always be mindful that you’ve got extra weight pushing your vehicle from behind. The key is to remember that the speed limit is not a speed requirement.
Now that you know your speed limits, find out if you need an electronic brake controller for your trailer.